Choosing to go virtual can be a great option to improve productivity for businesses both large and small alike. However, this route comes with different considerations.
Here are a few suggestions on how to manage a virtual team:
Establish a Protocol for Chat and Email
Virtual teams have the advantage of being able to instant message or email a colleague on their team. While this is generally useful, there is such a thing as too much communication. Establishing a “buddy” system can help team members minimize cross-chatter while still taking advantage of chat tools.
Use a Tool to Track Productivity
Reviewing production in the office can be a matter of walking over to someone’s desk. It isn’t as simple when teams are virtual. Create a shared Excel sheet or platform to keep track of values like time expenditure and production goals. This will set a standard for the team to keep track of and act as a teaching tool for conversations between team members and management.
Provide Recognition and Build Camaraderie
Morale is an undervalued influence on workplace productivity. Gatherings and workplace events can help to break up the day in and day out cycle. This is more difficult for virtual teams, especially if team members work from various locations outside of the office. Organize some team meetings in person when possible for the purpose of team-building. Provide some sort of recognition system even when meeting online. Letting team members know they are genuinely valued has a positive influence on behavior and productivity.
Utilize Document Sharing
Keeping track of figures is important, but equally important is utilizing available tools to allow the virtual team to cooperate. Google Docs, for example, is a shared user platform that can allow team members to edit and view the same document in real-time. Find other platforms or tools that fit into the specific industry of the virtual team.
Hire The Right Fit
Fill the team with the right people. Self-motivating, driven individuals with flexible schedules fit best in virtual teams. Traditionalists or people that require direct manager oversight may not be the best option for a virtual team.
There are plenty of additional tips on managing virtual teams that can be found here.